Petal Pusher is part rock memoir, road book, and coming-of-age story. The book sort of meanders between descriptions of life on the road, the demands of the music industry, and anecdotes about Lindeen’s early years and the influence of her family and friends. The present-tense, stream of consciousness narration propel the book along.
I completely missed the early 90s rock scene, so the majority of the names and bands (L7, Soul Asylum) that make an appearance in this book were lost on me. While I at times failed to grasp the real-world significance of these artists, it didn’t make the book any less entertaining or engrossing. They appear as aspirations or contemporaries in a way that feels incredibly relatable.
Most of Petal Pusher is like that: an all-encompassing, honest look at what it means to achieve a dream and then to re-evaluate it once the reality sets in. The author’s voice is talkative, casual, and straightforward. She never tries to make herself appear softer or kinder or any less flawed than she is, which means that, even as I found her attitude difficult to understand on occasion (you’re on tour! Finally living out the dream you’ve just spent the last hundred pages working towards! Stop worrying!), the book never stopped being engaging.
My understanding of 90s grunge is centered around Nirvana and the Riot Grrrl movement: the Pacific Northwest, feminism, and rebellion are the three things which come to mind. Of course, they all make appearances here, but in a far more intimate and far more concrete fashion: less the stuff of rock mythos and more the stuff of contemporaries who are sorta doing something similar. Bands like Bikini Kill are trying to make a political statement, Zuzu’s Petals are just trying to make good music.
Petal Pusher subverts the classic Hollywood trajectory where a small-town kid is transformed into a world famous rockstar, and in doing so raises questions about how ‘following your dreams’ is never really a static matter.